In a move that was poetic for how closely it resembled his rise to the top, and in particular his reaching of the pinnacle of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, Michael Bisping surprisingly announced his retirement yesterday on his “Believe You Me Podcast”.
Although I wouldn’t call it completely shocking; I think most believed “The Count” had one more fight left in him. Maybe it would be Nick Diaz. Maybe a rubber match with Luke Rockhold. A fight with Rashad Evans seemed about halfway home at one point, but it just was not to be. After a career that stretched 39 fights over 13+ years, Bisping has decided to hang them up rather than, in his own words, risk further damage to both of his fight-afflicted eyes. Not a horrible decision by any stretch.
I myself have had an interesting relationship with Bisping. I think a lot of fans, at least American ones, did. Here was this abrasive, loud, cocky as hell Brit that was insulting Hendo before being posterized with the h-bomb. But slowly, over time, I like many others have come to love him. He is a talented, tough SOB that always brought the fight and was one of the first to use his charm and mic skills to get the fights he wanted, which you have to respect. Towards the end of his career, 4 years after getting wrestlefucked into oblivion by Chael Sonnen in a #1 contender’s fight, Bisping got his shot at the 185lb belt on 17 days notice. We all know what happened on that night in 2016. “Larry Lefthook”, as he came to call himself, clipped the champion Rockhold with a left before finishing him off to become the most unlikely champion since Matt Serra. I remember jumping off my couch shocked, and elated beyond belief. No one deserved that more than Michael Bisping.
He’d win one more, a rematch against Henderson, before losing the belt to GSP and then losing again on a wayyyy too quick turnaround to Kelvin Gastelum. And that would end up being it. It would have been so incredible to hear the opening chord progression to “Song 2” one more time and get that chill up your spine before seeing Bisping himself bellow the “woohoo” and begin his march to the Octagon. Especially in London, as planned? Forget about it.
Instead the winningest fighter in UFC history leaves now, on his own terms, with more than one career’s worth of ups and downs and memories in his pocket and on his walls. He’ll still be around the company, no doubt. I wouldn’t be shocked if he started splitting some MC duties with Joe Rogan and Dan Hardy. It is going to be strange though, knowing the Bishop’s Ping won’t ever put on the 4 ounce gloves again.
Happy trails, Buddeh.